If you don’t hear from us in a week, call.

Blog 29 Image_WatingByThePhone

By Jamie Gier, Chief Marketing Officer, SCI Solutions

In our service-oriented culture, waiting for a call back is hardly grounds for repeat business. But it’s standard practice in health care. Recently, my mom made a visit to her primary care physician after continuing to experience headaches for several weeks following a car accident. The doctor ordered a CT, but unfortunately she is part of an all-too-common health system that lacks the tools and workflow to make the patient access experience easy and efficient – leaving my worried Mom subject to delays and additional, needless stress. The physician ordered the procedure and reminded my mom that if she didn’t get a call within a week to schedule the appointment, she should call the scheduling department. Now, at a minimum, there are two obvious problems: (1) why would it take a week to schedule a common procedure, and (2) why didn’t the physician or office staff have the tools available to schedule the appointment? They are part of the same system. In theory.

Sadly, this probably sounds all too familiar to you, as well. Our health care system is notorious for providing poor customer experiences, and the industry continues to lag in patient-centric services and technologies. Why is automation so challenging for providers and health systems, when the benefits are so clear and prevalent in virtually every other industry?

Physicians lack the time they need to take care of their patients properly – and fee structures have historically been set up to get patients in and out of the doctor’s office quickly. Now our health care system is contemplating transitioning to value-based care. New models are requiring longer patient visits and patient engagement models – and the only way to get that time back is to reduce the hours spent on repetitive administrative work. Automated processes and workflows help rid practices of paper, phone, fax and other costly and cumbersome inefficiencies. Intelligent, rules-based systems can perform the coordination tasks that need to be consistently delivered to ensure the best care at the right price. This automation moves data between systems, orders tests, makes referral recommendations based on in-network providers, and manages the front-end lifting that personnel have historically spent on obtaining insurance authorizations. This allows for humans to focus on meaningful engagements– spending time with patients, listening, solving problems, handling exceptions and, ultimately, providing exceptional care.

Automation also improves patient satisfaction and loyalty, and helps guarantee that patients are accessing the right care, delivered by doctors and specialists covered by their insurance company, better positioning them to pay for services rendered and stay on track with care regimens. It also mitigates denial processes upfront for health systems and providers and helps them more reliably and consistently capture revenue.

My mom did end up getting a call – more than a week after the original appointment. It was hardly an experience that compels her to return to this particular provider and health system for future care. If a provider is easy to work with, we all tend to work with that provider over and over again. We recommend and refer our friends and family members to these providers and their practices grow. Patients, particularly in today’s increasingly digital world, have no tolerance for slow, cumbersome processes. They will do business with practices that think and act like other industries, built on smart technologies.

Now, more than ever, automation rids health care organizations of error-prone and slow manual processes. Automation is also central to attracting new revenue opportunities for health systems and providers, helping drive money back into their organization in a streamlined, sustainable way. All of this and at the same time, improving overall patient and provider satisfaction.

Can you relate to the problems stemming from a lack of automation in health care? Share your stories in the comments; I’d love to hear from you. By the way, my Mom is doing just fine…

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